Farmers urged to branch out into forest planting

A CAMPAIGN has been launched to boost forest planting by farmers in Limerick.

It is part of an initiative by the Irish Forest Industry Chain (IFIC) and the Department of Agriculture is to highlight the benefits of increased forestry to farmers and the economy.

Defence Minister Willie O’Dea launched the Limerick campaign.

There are currently 590 Limerick farmers, just over 10% of the total in the county, involved in forestry.

IFIC chairman George McCarthy said forest cover in Limerick was still only 9% of the county’s land area and below the national average of 10% — among the lowest in the EU.

“The new forestry premium of up to €575/ha, tax-free for 20 years, is significantly higher than the income earned from dry stock on many Limerick farms,” Mr McCarthy said.

As forestry has the lowest labour requirement of all farm enterprises, it was an ideal enterprise for farmers trying to combine farm work with a busy off-farm job, Mr McCarthy said, adding it provides a valuable pension and insurance fund for farmers.

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